DAY SIX

beyond the natural mind – a 21 day manifesto

Day Six

“Today, I will start to evaluate what I do to earn money, and how what I do impacts the lives of others around the world”

“Who are you to tell me I have to evaluate what I do for a living?! That’s nobody’s business but mine.”

Of course, you’d be right. We don’t live in a totalitarian society where what you do is controlled by the state (and if you do, it’s time to move.)

You have been educated, you have been given careers and further education advice, and you have decided on a career. Congratulations!

What you do may depend on whether you passed or failed your exams, what your parents want you to do, what your peer group is doing, or you may have decided to go your own way.

You may have decided on a job that interests you, but one thing’s for sure, money is the reason you get up every morning. It isn’t? Well, you must have plenty of cash then, so congratulations again!

For those people who get up every morning to go to work, the one thing on your mind is not “how is the work I am doing affecting the lives of others around the world,” or indeed “how is the work I am doing impacting my own well being, the well being of my family and friends, and last but not least, the impact on the planet?”

You’re too busy worrying about working, I can understand that. When I was working in information technology all I could think of was the project I was working on, and what I had to achieve. If you had asked me the same question I have asked you today, I would turn off completely and think “why doesn’t he mind his own business!”

So when I say I understand that this question may make you feel slightly uneasy, I do!

Last year, one of the readers of “the natural mind – waking up” sent me an email, and whilst most was complimentary, he took me to task on the jobs section.

“I found the section titled jobs left me very angry, an emotion I know you would not approve of, to suggest that people should choose their job according to the damage it does to the planet etc., is just fanciful bullcrap. if we did that it would mean there would be very few jobs people actually could do, everything has a knock on effect to something else, I produce parts for cars and lorries I’m sure you could give a million reasons why I should change my job, is this just an excuse for you to not get a job and justify it to your disappointed father, you are an author your books are printed on paper taken from trees destroying the natural environment of countless animals is this hypocritical…”

I think the writer of this email perfectly encapsulates the feelings of most people who read works of philosophy where the writer shares some big ideas or concepts. The thought in most readers minds is “this is impossible, this could never work,” and of course, when we think things are impossible they usually are.

The most profound statement from the writer is when he says “to suggest that people should choose their job according to the damage it does to the planet etc, is just fanciful bullcrap. if we did that it would mean there would be very few jobs people actually could do.”

So let’s go into this paragraph very very carefully. What he is actually saying is, if people chose their job according to the damage it does to the planet etc, there would be very few jobs people could do. Wow! He’s absolutely right!

Currently, there are over seven billion people on this planet. Seven billion people who are all programmed to get a job to feed, clothe, and house themselves.

Seven billion people. Do you know what that number looks like? On paper it is 7,000,000,000 but in the real world, can you imagine how many people that is? No, neither can I. Suffice to say, that is a lot of mouths to feed.

Stop for a moment and reflect…

Great, now we’ve all caught our breaths, I think we should start looking back, back to a time before the birth of agriculture, back to a time when life was very different from it is now; a time when people lived in small groups, where “work” was hunting animals and gathering edible plants.

According to archaeologists and historians these people lived in caves and temporary dwellings, and the world population was estimated to be anything from ten thousand to one million people.

So what did these people do for a “job”? Well, given that there was no formal education, no industrialisation, and no career guidance counsellors, I would guess that their job would be hunting and gathering food and doing anything else that would help keep the small tribe alive.

A difficult life? Yes, in a way, for they were always trying to find food, but also a much simpler life. Did they have the time or the awareness to enjoy that simple life? That is another question, one which I do not have the answer to, but one thing’s for sure, their impact on the lives of others was fairly low, as it was on the planet’s resources (that’s enough of the history lesson.)

“Sounds boring to me”
“Yeah, me too! What did they do in the evening, there was no entertainment or anything”
“No arts or books, or tv” “..And no bars or clubs…” “And no holidays!”
“I’m glad I didn’t live then, sounds terrible. How did they survive without facebook and twitter, and mobiles?”

“How did they pay for anything without a credit card???”

We have come a long way since the time of cave dwellers and hunter gatherers. We are Modern Man!

But what we call “Modern Man” hasn’t been around that long. Until the dawn of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s, jobs were in traditional industries closely linked to the land, and the population wasn’t huge either. I’m not suggesting people lived in harmony, far from it, but the impact they had on each other and the planet itself was low.

The population crept up slowly at first, reaching the first billion only in 1804, then it started its steady acceleration to two billion in 1927, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in in 1999, and seven billion in 2012, but this isn’t a topic on population growth, so why are we discussing it?

Over the last few paragraphs we talked about jobs, from nomadic hunting and gathering for survival, through to the settling of Man, made possible through the domestication of animals and plants, but now it’s time to fast forward to the present and in particular to the capitalist societies most of us live in (even if we are governed by so-called communists, socialists, or dictatorships).

Whatever the social policies pursued by governments, the people are firmly entrenched in making money – lots of it, and just because you haven’t made your millions yet that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like to.

So let me ask you a question. What would you do to make money?
How far would you go to make money?

Some of you might say that you have ethics and morals that would stop you from doing things like selling drugs, but whatever your ethics, we can be sure that you haven’t mapped out the impact of your job on the planet as a whole, including the impact on your fellow man and all the other species.

“What!!?” says you. “You want me to do what? Are you crazy or something? You must be! I don’t have time to do that, and anyway, what’s the point of me doing it if I’m the only one doing it.” And I see your point.

What is the point of me doing anything if no one else is doing it.

But if you remember, this is an “I” manifesto, we are not worried about anyone else but ourselves here. This is our life and we take responsibility for our thoughts, actions and the consequences which arise from them.

Let’s start with me shall we? I do many things but my official “job” is probably a writer, and although I earn very little from it, it is my main source of income.

The reader who corresponded with me says this “you are an author your books are printed on paper taken from trees destroying the natural environment of countless animals”, and he would be right. Although I know 99% of all readers download the book over the internet, and do not buy printed copies, that is no justification. The computers they download onto need resources from the Earth, people have to sit in factories in repetitive jobs assembling them. The computers need electricity as does the internet which has a harmful effect on the environment, and the money paid to the electricity companies and internet companies is lining the pockets of individuals, put into banks who may be investing in companies who have unethical practices, and paid in the form of taxes to governments who may use the money to oppress their own people, and start wars in other countries (whilst lining their own pockets).

And the circle continues.

Just because I write a book which I believe will help people change and therefore affect the world positively, I am also aware that I am a part of the problem.

And in case this all sounds too crazy or too difficult, take a deep breath, and let’s relax for a minute.
Good, now we may continue.

I say that I am aware that the way I choose to earn money has an impact on my fellow man and the natural environment, but I am also aware that just by being alive has an impact somewhere, and as I don’t plan on committing suicide any time soon, I’ll have an impact every second I breathe.

So what’s the solution to the terrible impact we are all having on each other and the world. Well, as I said, we are not here to worry about others, even though we may think that someone who makes bombs or guns for a living or works in an abattoir is having more of an impact than our job working as a web designer for a charity which saves children in africa!

Remember this – I am responsible for my choices to earn money. I am responsible for the impact my choice has on the world, and once I take responsibility, and map the impact, I will make the right decision. I cannot hope to understand the impact without making the connections.

As we draw this topic to a close, let’s not worry about there not being enough jobs to go around. If we are truly concerned about creating a more enlightened life, we will find the right path, and if we aren’t, well we, our fellow man, and the planet will find out the consequences of that decision soon enough.

GOTO DAY SEVEN


by alan macmillan orr

2012

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